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The three Columbus boys basketball teams, North, East and Columbus Christian, have a combined record of 16-1.
OK, it’s early in the season. Even so, how could you not be excited?
On the schedule
Upcoming boys basketball games for Columbus’ three high school programs:
7:30 p.m. Thursday: At Crosspointe Christian
6:30 p.m. Friday: At Bloomington Lighthouse
7:30 p.m. Saturday: At Providence Cristo Rey
Dec. 28-29: At Cannelton Invitational
7:30 p.m. Friday: Franklin Central
7:30 p.m. Dec. 18: At Columbus North
Dec. 27: At Lawrence Central Shootout
7:30 p.m. Friday: At Pike
7:30 p.m. Dec. 18: Columbus East
Dec. 27-29: At Bob Wettig Tournament in Richmond
I’ve seen all three play, and these teams are for real. Now it’s up to you, high school basketball fans, to make these teams even better.
Basketball fans at the high school level have more of an effect on the games than any other sport. If our local fans pack these gyms, make plenty of noise and combine with the pep bands to rattle the opposing team, the sky is the limit.
Here is a look at the three teams.
Columbus North (4-0)
Josh Speidel is the best player on this team. Or wait, Sawyer Glick is the best player. How about Tori Jackson or Clint Cunningham or Evan Henry?
That’s the beauty of North, at least as this season gets under way. Opposing teams can’t concentrate on any one player because somebody else is going to smack them in the forehead.
My impression of the Bull Dogs is that they haven’t scratched the surface and Jason Speer will take the first three-quarters of this season to mix it all together.
They do look rough at times, a little helter-skelter up and down the court. On the other hand, when the pace gets furious, it seems to benefit the Bull Dogs. That’s because North’s big men all are pretty good about handling the basketball in transition.
It will be interesting to see if Speer gets Jackson more involved in the offense, as he tends to disappear at times. Jackson, at 6-8, is a force defensively; he changes the arc of shots and clears the boards better than anyone. He always is going to be surrounded by three defensive players because many teams are going to try to zone North, but he could be an even bigger factor on offense as well as helping to get opponents in foul trouble.
Teams will have an impossible task trying to guard North if the Bull Dogs are aggressive to the basket. Speidel is simply a load whenever he takes the ball down the lane. Sure, he can hit the outside shot, too, but good things always happen when he is going to the rim.
North gets a huge test Friday when it goes on the road to Pike at 7:30 p.m. It would be great to see Bull Dogs fans hit the road for this one to have a presence at the game.
Columbus East (3-0)
It was hard to believe the offensive discipline displayed by the Olympians last Friday in a win against Bedford North Lawrence. Brent Chitty’s team worked the ball around the perimeter, then inside, and back out again in a manner usually witnessed by fans of Princeton.
The ball movement was at such a high level that it was hard to tell if East has any stars or not. It’s kind of a one-player-is-no-more-important-than-another approach, or at least it was on this night.
East will have to play some terrific team ball to excel, because it’s biggest presence inside, at most times, will be Bryce Lienhoop at 6-foot-6.
That’s going to create some defensive matchup problems inside, as they experienced with BNL’s Jackson Ryan, a 6-7 center. Ryan got some very easy baskets by establishing position too close to the rim.
If the Olympians can become as efficient on defense as they are on offense, look out.
Ridge Harris is a strong wing who should create some matchup nightmares for teams. Zach Martindale is a high-IQ player who seems to be in the right place at the right time.
We will get a good look at the Olympians on Dec. 18 when North hosts East at 7:30 p.m.
Columbus Christian (9-1)
Chris Noblitt is a beast in the middle for the Crusaders, and although he is just a sophomore, everything starts with him.
At that level, Noblitt isn’t going to encounter many centers who are a whole lot taller than his 6-foot-5 frame, and not many are going to have his strength.
Surrounding Noblitt are a whole lot of players who know how to score. Dalane Shaull, Josh Miracle and Austin Straub all are capable of putting 20 points on the board on any given night. If guard Nick Bridgewater distributes the ball to the one with the hot hand, things will go well.
Coach Kevin Roth knows that he has lots of players who can put the ball in the basket, so he pushes the pace when he can. He’s even got some depth off the bench to help.
Perhaps the biggest knock on the Crusaders is they tend to be swat defenders at times, so they will have to play a little smarter defensively when the better teams come to town. They also could value the basketball a bit more and cut down on turnovers.
But expect them to be there when tournament time becomes crunch time.
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